Review: Toy Soldiers: Cold War – XBLA

If I was asked, “what is the one genre of games that I have a secret addiction for?” it would have to be tower-defense games.  I have been known to spend hours on end playing free flash games at my PC, trying to get past the next wave of enemies.  When Signal Studios put out Toy Soldiers last year, I lost hours of my life blowing up little plastic toys.  So when they announced their sequel, Toy Soldiers: Cold War, I was both ecstatic and frightened.  It seems I may be spending a lot of time indoors again this summer.

Watching any 80’s war movie, you’ll instantly appreciate all the cliches TS:CW borrows from them.  Just like its predecessor, your battleground is set inside of a toy box and you take control of placing ‘towers’ or turrets in predetermined sockets across the map.  In the main campaign you are tasked with defending your base from the waves of USSR soldiers, tanks, and air assaults that want nothing more than to take you down.  Don’t be deceived though by the fact they call them ‘toys’ because this is no children’s game.  As you mow down enemy forces with your turrets and missile launchers, you can hear them scream as they die a plastic death.  You have the option to dispose of your foes in a direct manner by taking control of your turrets, which is the only way you will complete most missions as it allows you to unleash rounds faster and fire some alternate weaponry.

Toy Soldiers: Cold War doesn’t just try to repeat everything from the first game.  There are several additions that have been included to make veterans realize this is more than just a fresh coat of paint.  First up are six mini-games.  A few of these you will get to experience as part of your training during the campaign, like ‘Dolled Up’ and ‘Cardboard Theater’.  Each mode is focused around trying to get the highest score which is compared online with your friends and the rest of the world.  I didn’t jump into the mini-games until after I completed the campaign.  It was a nice addictive addition without the stressful tension that comes from defending your base in the campaign.

The second new feature is what Signal Studios call ‘Attack Barrages’.  These are gained after successfully racking up a chain of kills and killing special ‘starred’ enemies, at which point a spinning slot initiates to reveal one of five attacks.  Each one is devastating to your opponent but the best one has to be the Commando, aka John Rambo.  In one hand (right trigger) you fire a machine gun, while in the other hand (left trigger) you fire a rocket launcher.  During Rambo’s rampage he constantly shoots of tacky one liners but it all suits the game and will make you chuckle the first time you see him drop-shipped in his toy packaging.

One thing most tower-defense games lack are the inclusion of multi-player modes, but TS:CW takes another step in front of the crowd by including both versus and co-op modes.  Playing through some of the more challenging stages with a friend is a treat, especially when turret locations are spread out around the map.  You often find it difficult to get from one turret to the next in the heat of battle and this brings me to one of my only gripes.  Targeting and ease of moving around the map is often sluggish.  This sometimes results in having to watch a slow moving tank roll into base as you your cursor slowly moves to the closest artillery.  This is very minor though to the experience as a whole and just adds a bit more challenge on later stages.

If you thought this was everything the game had to offer you’d be wrong.  Even with everything listed above there is also a Survival mode which pits you (and possibly a friend) against an endless wave of plastic enemies.  Simply survive as long as you can, something we’ve seen in all of the heavy hitters like Gears of War and Halo.

Music plays at the beginning of each stage to get you pumped for the upcoming battle.  Each piece is a riff from some well known 80’s soundtracks and compliments the setting for the entire game.  The detail to level design, sound effects and character models is so high you’d expect this to have been put out in a full boxed retail release (god only knows how Lego games keep pulling it off).

Signal Studios has made Toy Soldiers: Cold War better than the first in every way possible.  Rounding out the Summer of Arcade on XBLA, this game does not disappoint and should keep you busy for hours.  Available for XBLA on August 17th for 1200MSP.

Final Score: 4.5 out of  5

Toy Soldiers: Cold War was provided to SitSam.com for use of this review.

Written by Bryan

GD Star Rating
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